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tv   Face the Nation  CBS  February 12, 2012 8:30am-9:00am PST

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>> schieffer: today on "face the nation," mitt romney edges ron paul and wins the maine caucuses. until he won yesterday, it had been a rough week for romney. after rick santorum swept colorado, missouri and minnesota on tuesday, romney was suddenly everybody's favorite punching bag. >> a conservative, a liberal, and a moderate walked into the bar. the bartender says, "hi, mitt." >> schieffer: as conservatives raised doubts about whether romney was one of them, he set about to change that. >> my path to conservatism came from my family. i was a severely conservative republican governor. i know conservatism because i have lived conservatism. >> schieffer: will it work?
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is romney's campaign back on track? we'll ask ron paul who came very close in maine. >> the revolution is only beginning. >> schieffer: but is the long race hurting republican chances this fall? we'll ask senate republican leader mitch mcconnell. and we'll bring in the white house chief of staff jack loo for the latest on the war in which the president finds himself with the catholic church. this is "face the nation." captioning sponsored by cbs from cbs news in washington, "face the nation" with bob schieffer. >> schieffer: good morning again. welcome to "face the nation." first to the campaign. yesterday maine weighed in on the republican presidential race. mitt romney ended up just edging out ron paul. he joins us this morning from his district in texas. congressman, you made a long flight to be with us this
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morning from your own state. thanks for joining us. >> thank you. good to be with you. >> schieffer: i want to ask you something. you came very, very close to beating mitt romney in maine yesterday. our estimate is he's going to eight delegates and you'll get 7. but i know this is one that you really wanted to win. where do you go now? >> well, you know, our numbers on the delegates are much different because the process has only started. we're in a very good position to win a good majority of those. you know, we were a little bit disappointed last night but we were disappointed that the one county where we have done the best in the past and we were expected to do the best in the past they canceled their caucus. we did very well up there. but we're going to continue to do what we do and do the very best and keep accumulating delegates. >> schieffer: what do you see as your path now? do you really think you can get the nomination or are you just there to get enough delegates to be a force at the convention? >> sure.
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i think both. we're there to win, do our best. romney has been up and down. the others have been up and down. i haven't been down. i keep going up. i don't really go up and down. our numbers grow. once they join our campaign, anybody joins our campaign becomes solid supporters. who knows what is going to happen. we live in an age where things change rapidly politically and economically and in foreign policy. things change. this whole ballgame can change rather rapidly. >> schieffer: let me just ask you something. people may disagree with you but i don't know anyone including me who dauts your sincerity. or who doesn't believe that you believe what you're saying. having said that, why do you think mitt romney is having so much trouble convincing people that he is a conservative? >> well, i don't know exactly why because i think if it
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comes to gingrich or santorum, they should suffer the same consequences. maybe it's the type of coverage and the image. but i don't think they have been vetted very well because i know them pretty well. their records are far from being conservative. but mitt has been a governor. he's taken these positions. but i think that all of them are rather typical of what's wrong with the country. they don't have firm convictions. of course they've been rewarded. many people are rewarded for saying don't be overly rigid. they're very rigid in flip flopping. well, i might be so-called rigid in defending the constitution. but in the past that was seen to be a negative because we weren't in much trouble. we were a very wealthy and nobody worried too much about it. now we're broke. now what i'm talking about has much greater appeal to larger number of people in the country today. >> schieffer: you're saying what governor romney's problem with conservatives is that in
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fact he is not a conservative. >> well, i think he's conservative in some ways but i think he's every bit as conservative as the other two. that's my point. i don't think he's less conservative. i think if the country only has the choice of those three individuals, they have to look for the person who might be, you know, more willing to look at even more conservative ideas. i mean if you are overly rigid as an interventionist as far as foreign policy and economic policy goes, they may well be worse than the person who says, well, you know i was more liberal when i was a governor. now i'm more conservative because i have to represent more conservatives. i think the problem is that all three of them have represented the same system, the same status quo in not wanting changes in the foreign policy. none of them talk about real spending cuts. none of them talk about real changes in monetary policy. they're not a whole lot different. i think it's... when it comes
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down to those three it will be management style more than anything else. >> schieffer: talking about his governorship, governor romney told the c-pac convention here in washington that he was... the word he used was "a severe conservative." i know about liberal republicans and conservative republicans and libertarian republicans but i never heard of a severe republican or a severe conservative. what is that? do you know? >> i think i share your interest in that because that was the first time i've heard that definition. i guess mitt will have to tell us exactly what it means. obviously he means he's a serious conservative. he was trying to defend himself or portray himself as such. but i don't know exactly what he was meaning by that. >> schieffer: there seems to be kind of a lack of enthusiasm this year. i mean, your people... i'll give you your due. your people come out.
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they seem committed to you. but i don't see that kind of enthusiasm elsewhere in this field. why do you think that is? >> well, i don't think the other candidates are offering a lot of change. i think one of the most disturbing thing, well a couple things the republicans ought to be disturbed about, that they do not... other than myself they're not appealing to young people. another thing was that 20% of republicans now are considering that they might, you know, either just stay at home or vote for obama. they are staying home from the primaries. so that means they're not offering, you know, a real alternative. i think when people hear my message they get excited about it because it makes sense. you know, a lot of people come and say, you know, what you're saying just makes common sense. ql do we keep getting involved in these wars? that's this idea that you need money, just print it. it seems so logical. yet it's been ingrained in our system for nearly 100 years, well, if you need money, spend it.
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just print it and everything will be all right. deficits don't matter. conservatives and liberals have taught for decades that deficits don't matter. that's come out of both parties. but young people especially seem to, you know, get away from those cliches and say, well, we want to hear some common sense. we want to have somebody who believes in something that will obey the constitution. that's what i find excites so many people. >> schieffer: do you think, not knowing yet who the republican nominee is going to be, do you think the republicans can actually beat president obama this fall? >> oh, sure. they can. i still think it's up for grabs. if they think six months ago they thought, well, any republican could beat him. i don't think that's the case. i think the incumbent has big advantages. they have control of the, you know, they have the bully pulpit. they can do so much and obama is going to raise a ton of money. one time he was bragging that
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he going to raise a billion dollars. now he's going with the super pac. money does talk. any republican who thinks he's a shoe-in should have another thought coming. >> schieffer: let me just ask you this quickly because i have to wind this up. do you think mitt romney, if he's the nominee, can beat barack obama? yeah, i do. i do. i think i could beat him too. i think i have appealed to some of those democrats that he doesn't have. i don't know if anybody noticed but there was a democratic primary in new hampshire that had i think close to 3,000 write-ins of democrats. he can beat obama. but i think he needs something that appeals to democrats and independents. if people look carefully at what i'm talking about they'll find out that my message does have an appeal across the political spectrum. >> schieffer: we thank you for being with us this morning. thank you so much, congressman. the top senate republican mitch mcconnell joins us now from louisville, kentucky. well, mr. leader, let me just ask you, how do you see this
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thing shaping down or shaping up? you just heard ron paul. he's not sure that every republican could beat barack obama. do you think republicans can win this thing some. >> absolutely. at some point we're going to have a nominee. i don't think any of these caucus goers or primary voters need any advice from me about who to pick. we're going to end up with a very credible electable candidate in the not-too-distant future. >> schieffer: do you think this campaign, as divisive and nasty as it's been, has it helped barack obama? >> oh, i don't think so. i mean these are always knock- down drag-out fights. it takes four years for people to for get it was just like this four years ago. >> schieffer: let's shift to something that just happened here on friday. the president called a news conference and basically backed away from the policy that he had announced that would make catholic hospitals and schools pay for birth control methods for the people
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who worked for them. catholic church just erupted in a fire storm. after that was announced. the president backed away from that on friday. do you think that's the end of it? >> look, here's the problem, bob. the fact that the white house thinks this is about contraception is the whole problem. this is about freedom of religion. it's right there in the first amendment. you can't miss it. right there in the very first amendment to our constitution. and the government doesn't get to decide for religious people what their religious beliefs are. they get to decide that. so when the bishops spoke, i think that's pretty good evidence that they know what their own religious beliefs are. this compromise obviously was unacceptable to them. this is not just a catholic issue. the southern baptist theological seminary is in my hometown here in louisville. the president wrote me friday. he had the same view that this
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is all about the free exercise of religion. and so this underscores just one of the constitutional problems with obama-care. tomorrow senate republicans will be filing an amicus brief, that is a friend of the court brief, in the obama-care litigation that's before the supreme court. that will be heard in march. it's riddled with constitutional problems. this is what happens when the government tries to take over health care and tries to interfere with your religious beliefs. >> schieffer: we'll have the white house chief of staff jacks liu will be with us after i talk to you to give their side of it. but let me just continue on, on this. now, some catholic organizations have to be after the president announced he was backing off this and was going to make the insurance companies pay for birth control pills basically, some said well that was a good step in the right direction. so forth. but the beneficiary offs came back and said they want to push now for stronger
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legislation to extend this ban on religious institutions having to buy these things. and senator blunt from missouri, one of your republican colleagues, he wants an amendment now that would allow any group that had a moral objection to this to not have to pay for birth control pills. are you willing to go as far as senator blunt wants to go on this? >> it's not a moral objection. this is about the free exercise of religion. under our constitution, you don't take a poll to find out how people feel about a constitutional freedom. in fact the bill of rights are designed to protect minority views so what the overall view on the issue of contraception is has nothing to do with an issue about religious freedom. in this country, the government doesn't get to tell you or your organization what your religious views are. and they could well be minority views. but the bill of rights is
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designed to protect the minority from the will of the majority. so this issue will not go away until the administration simply backs down. they don't have the authority under the first amendment of the united states constitution to tell someone in this country or some organization in this country what their religious beliefs are. therein lies problem. >> schieffer: well i guess what i'm asking you though is are you willing as far as senator blunt now wants to go and just write in legislation that would ban any group that had just a, quote, moral objection, not just a religious group but just any group that had a moral objection to that? would you be willing to push that in the senate? >> yeah. you know, if we end up having to try to overcome the president's opposition by legislation, of course, i'd be happy to support it. and intend to support it. it would be difficult as long as the president is rigid in his view that he gets to
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decide what somebody else's religion is. i assume he would veto it. we'll be voting on that in the senate. you can anticipate that that would happen as soon as possible. >> schieffer: let me ask you one other question. the president sends his budget up there to you all monday, tomorrow. he says he can save $4 trillion over the next ten years. is that going to be good enough? does his budget have any chance? >> no. you know, last year i had to offer his budget for him. senate democrats haven't passed a budget in a thousand days even though the law requires it. we only had two budget votes last year. i offered the house budget. they followed the law and had a vote on a budget. we voted on that in the senate. i offered president obama's budget since the democrats didn't seem to want to develop their own budget and didn't want to vote for his. his budget was defeated 97-0 so probably the only budget votes we'll have in the senate which refuses to follow the law and pass a budget of its
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own would be a house-passed budget and the president's budget. so i intend to offer the president's budget for him so he'll have a chance to get a vote on it. >> schieffer: thank you very much, senator. >> thank you. >> schieffer: joining us now in his first appearance on "face the nation" the new white house chief of staff jack liu. let me put this to you directly. bill daley, your predecessor, warned the president about getting into the fight with the catholic church if he went forward with the policy of forcing catholic institutions to buy this birth control coverage for their employees. the vice president warned him against that. he went ahead with that policy. is that the reason that bill daley left, in you're here siting in this chair today? >> no good to be with you this morning, bob. the president has two very strong principles that have been at work throughout. one is.... >> schieffer: no, no. the question was is that why bill daley left? >> he announced a policy that was going to take some time to
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implement. he speeded up the process. he's now implemented. the president has not changed his position. his position was... is and has been that women have a right to full range of preventive health including contraception and we have to do it in a way that's respectful of religious differences. we've implemented the policy. i think the president has stuck to his position throughout. >> schieffer: two questions. let me go back to my question. is that why bill daley left? yes or no? >> i think the president and bill daley made clear that after a very difficult year, bill submitted his resignation. the president reluctantly accepted it. he asked me to take his place. i think we're now in a period of, you know,... the economy is growing. we've got an awful lot of things going on in the world. >> schieffer: all right. the second question, are you saying that the president came out friday and did not chak his policy? >> i think what the president did on friday was provided the detail. the detail was always going to come. it was an important principle.
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it is an important principle that women have a right to get all forms of preventive health including contraceptives. the president has always been sensitive to the concerns of institutions that have religious objections. the solution that the president announced on friday is one that puts no institution that claims religious objection because it's related to the church, whether it's the catholic hospital or a catholic university, in a position where they either have to pay for it or provide benefits that they find objectionable but women will have the right to get them. it's reconciling two very important principles. >> schieffer: you're saying the president went on national television just to announce the details? he didn't change anything in his plan? why were the catholics objecting? why did some of them after that say, okay, that's a step in the right direction? >> look, it's clear that the policy that was announced the
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end of january generated quite a lot of attention. it's also clear on friday when the president made his announcement that catholic health association, which understands both health care reform and the health care system very well, the catholic charities, they embrace what the president announced because it did successfully bring together these two principles. there are some who want to divide and say there's no way to come to an agreement that bridges the difference. the president, i think, accomplished what he set out to do which is bring these two principles together. >> schieffer: with all due respect the catholic bishops didn't agree. they didn't embrace it. they said we're now going to push for something even stronger. >> we never expected that there would be universal acceptance of what the president's proposing. so i can't speak to one or another group that objects to it. we have broad consensus, not universal con convenience us that this is an approach that's right. we're going to go ahead and implement it. women are going to have access in institutions like catholic
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universities and catholic hospitals will not be in a position that they had feared. i think that's a good resolution. it draws on the best in the american tradition. >> schieffer: if the congress in some ways tries to abridge this, we're already seeing senator blount saying that he will introduce an amendment now that will allow any organization that has a moral objection, religious or otherwise, to be able to... that they don't won't have to do it. the president i take it would veto something like that? >> i'm not going to address hypotheticals. the president is going to go ahead and implement the affordable care act. we've made every effort since its enactment to implement it and will continue to. i think that it's not going to come to pass. >> schieffer: mr. liu, we want to thank you very much for coming here and being with us. >> good to be with you, bob. >> schieffer: we'll be back in a minute with the final word. ♪
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>> schieffer: finally today we don't spend a lot of time here bragging about our work and our reporters. we don't even use the word exclusive very much. we think good work stands on its own. but the work this week of collar it a ward and producer ben plesser who slipped past syrian government guards and risked their lives to bring us a story in pictures of the revolution there deserves special mention. day after day from inside syria telling the story as it can only be told by people who are seeing it with their own eyes. they're safely out of syria. and joining us from turkey this morning, ben as usual is off camera seeing these pictures get through. thank you very much for what you're doing, clarissa, and welcome back to the world here. where there times when you thought you might not get out of there? >> certainly there were many times when we had very serious concerns about how we would be
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able to get out not just out of the country but out of the city where we were. it's been one of the hot beds of the resistance since this uprising began nearly a year ago. while we were there, we saw tanks coming in and around the city making it very difficult to move in and out. but then beyond that, of course, you have to actually cross the border from syria into turkey. it is a pretty dangerous endeavor. it's also physically very demanding. it had been raining a lot the week before we made our exit. which meant that the terrain was incredibly muddy. we were literally wading through canals in the dead of night. so certainly it was a very difficult exercise. >> schieffer: you were with these rebels. how long do you think they can keep this up? >> it's very hard to say because they're very much dependent on the very little money that they have, which is running out. they are not getting weapons or support from outside of the country. and there's really just a huge
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gulf between what the rebels are saying that their intentions are and what they are actually capable of doing. they told us all the time, we're going to bring down the regime. we have these large offenseives planned but when you watch them actually fighting and you see the lack of organization, the lack of heavy weaponry, the lack of military training, you realize that in practice what they're doing is extremely difficult. without smp kind of support, it's unfathomable to me at least how they could continue at this pace for any real length of time. >> schieffer: we just wanted to say thank you this morning. we appreciate what you and ben have done. be safe now. you've made us all proud. to work at cbs news. we'll be back in a minute. [ horn honks ]
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